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Patent abuse among 4 MCUA-backed bills signed by Gov. Nixon
ST. LOUIS (7/17/14)--Among four bills Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon signed by the July 14 legislative deadline was a measure that provides credit unions and others with protection against bad faith assertions of patent infringement, or patent trolling.
 
Four out of the five bills supported by the Missouri Credit Union Association (MCUA) during the 2014 legislative session will become law on Aug. 28. Nixon vetoed one bill by the deadline. Overall, he vetoed 33 bills, the most in a single year since he took office.
 
House Bill 1374, the patent troll bill, was sponsored by Rep. Stan Cox (R-52). Sen. Mike Cunningham (R-33) introduced Senate Bill 706, which addresses the same issue ( News Now Feb 6).
 
The new law sets clear criteria to help judges distinguish legitimate from illegitimate patent assertions. It also gives businesses affected by patent trolling the option to seek restitution through the circuit court.
 
"Patent troll" broadly refers to people who sue companies, such as credit unions, for patent infringement on often questionable claims in attempt to collect licensing fees.
 
Other bills signed by Nixon include a consumer protection bill banning public employee pension transfers (HB 1217); a bill protecting a credit union's lien priority over a condo association's special assessment (HB 1218); and a credit card processing service contract bill (HB 1270). 
 
Nixon vetoed the electronic lien release bill, HB 1999.  The bill would have allowed a lienholder who files a lien electronically on a motor vehicle or trailer to electronically release the lien.  Nixon's veto letter cited concerns about a drafting error in the bill. 
 
"While it was disappointing to have the electronic lien release bill vetoed, it was a positive legislative session overall," said David Kent, MCUA director of state legislative affairs.  "The governor signed the majority of our priority bills, including the patent troll bill, and these bills will have an impact on credit union operations and service to members."
 
There is still an opportunity for HB 1999 to become law this year.  The Missouri General Assembly can override the governor's veto with a two-thirds majority vote in both the House and Senate.  The veto session will be held Sept. 10.


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